Hollywood Records, 1981
REVIEW BY: Alfredo Narvaez
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/16/2000
Saviour of the Universe
He save everyone of us
One of the things I remember from childhood is going to watch this B-movie masterpiece and loving every minute of it. From the over-the-top performance by Max Von Sydow to the über-coolness of the Hawkmen to the very insipid acting of one Sam J. Jones as the lead character, this became one of my favorite movies as a kid. Of course, as I saw it again on TV, I saw the high levels of queso (that's cheese for y'all) that permeated every scene of this movie. However, one thing has remained as cool now as when I first heard it back then. That is, of course, the soundtrack to this movie created and performed by British rockers Queen.
He's a miracle!
Outside of a rare song appearing on a soundtrack, the members of Queen had never done music exclusively for a movie. But producer Dino DeLaurentis felt that this movie would be completed with their music throughout out. So Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, Roger Taylor and Brian May went and created what's become B-movie folklore.
Now a warning: Unlike most other CDs, you cannot truly review this soundtrack track-by-track, though I will try. To fully appreciate this music, you will have to hear it from start to finish. This is the type of CD that you do have to experience completely to get.
The first thing that shocked me in hearing this album is the extensive use of synthesizers. For a band that had until a year or two before this album proudly declared "No Synthesizers!" in every album, this is somewhat of a shock. Every member of the band is credited with use of the synths! And believe me, they do use the synthesizer to its maximum.
The second thing that confounded me was that along with the music you will find pieces of movie dialogue spliced in. And I ain't talking about small snippets at start and end. No, I mean they cut into the music with pieces of the movie's dialogue. Every now and again this does get annoying, but you get the sense that this was meant to deliver sort of a mini-version of the movie. Like I said, I wouldn't have as big a problem with it if it didn't cut into several tracks here and there. (But you have to hear the wedding vows Ming takes. They are truly hilarious. Maybe those were the ones you should have taken, Chris!) [Editor's note: Just wait 'till you get married, Al!]
Okay, now with all that out of the way, let's talk the music itself. The album kicks off with the hit "Flash's Theme." Yep, that great piece best known for the "Ah-aaahhh!!!" If you were my age or about there when this movie came out, you remember it. It encompasses the B-movie aspects of the character perfectly. It appears and reappears throughout the score, particularly in "Flash To The Rescue," "Marriage Of Dale And Ming" and "Flash's Theme Reprise." It also gets remixed into the Hero theme, which is basically a longer and more rock-oriented version for "Battle Theme" and "The Hero."
But there are two other major themes in this soundtrack. One is for the evil Ming the Merciless. Featuring a greater use of the the synths, "Ming's Theme" is minimalistic and spare, but fits his character well. It gets remixed in "The Ring" and reappears through other cues. The other major theme is for Vultan, the leader of the Hawkmen. Also relying greatly on the synthesizer, "Vultan's Theme" is featured throughout the second half of the soundtrack. It's great fun, even if you do mind the synth overuse.
What's great to hear is the way that each member of Queen shines in here. John Deacon's bass is stellar, particularly on the main theme. Roger Taylor owns the second half of "In The Space Capsule," with his rhythmic drums. Brian May delivers perhaps the best rock take on "The Wedding March." (Now you know how I want to walk down the aisle!) And Freddie Mercury uses his piano playing to master the synth and deliver the fun, if cheesy, "Football Fight."
What's not so great to hear is the bonus (and I use that word loosely) remix of Flash's Theme. Remixed by Mista Lawnge, this is the longest track here and, without a doubt, the worst of the bunch. It's not even bad, it's terrible - ranking alongside the remix of "We Will Rock You" done by Rick Rubin. Avoid it at all costs!
So, who is going to buy this album? Are you a fan of this cheesy movie? Are you a hardcore Queen fan? If so, you will enjoy it. Anyone else - even fairweather or new fans - would do best in avoiding this neo-classic. This is for the initiated and for the goofballs. Now everybody sing:
King of the Impossible!